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Mdou Moctar performs on the Hydro Quebec stage at Place D'Youville during Day 4 of the 52nd Festival D'été Quebec (FEQ2019) on July 7, 2019 in Quebec City, Canada. (Photo by Ollie Millington/Redferns)

Celebrated Tuareg Musician, Mdou Moctar, Returns With New Single 'Ibitlan'

Listen to a psychedelic new track from the renowned Nigerien artist.

Celebrated Nigerien-born, Tuareg musician Mdou Moctar returns with the blazing new single "Ibitlan."

The psychedelic track sees the artist delivering electrifying guitar riffs in the Tuareg tradition. He sings passionately throughout the track, which as the artist notes, is a love song describing his lover's beauty. He further described the song in a statement via The Fader:

It's like when there's a valley, with a stream running through it, and all the plants are green. The song is about how my girlfriend is beautiful like that. Her skin is like a yellow flower, and her smile is like lightning.

The track is the artist's first since the release of his 2019 album, Ilana (The Creator), which NPR Music described as the most "insane psychedelic guitar album of the 21st century." Before then, he released 2017's Sousoume Tamachek.


Back in 2015, the artist released the memorable Tuareg remake of Prince's 1984 film Purple Rain and Jimmy Cliff's 1973 film The Harder They Come, Akounak Tedalat Taha Tazoughai, via Sahel Sounds. It was a seminal project that also produced a classic soundtrack by the same name.

Listen to Moctar's latest below, and stream his latest album Ilana above.

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6 Samples From 'Éthiopiques' in Hip-Hop

A brief history of Ethio-jazz cultural exchange featuring songs by Nas & Damian Marley, K'naan, Madlib and more.

This article was originally published on OkayAfrica in March, 2017. We're republishing it here for our Crossroads series.

It's 2000 something. I'm holed up in my bedroom searching for samples to chop up on Fruity Loops. While deep into the free-market jungle of Amazon's suggested music section, I stumble across a compilation of Ethiopian music with faded pictures of nine guys jamming in white suit jackets. I press play on the 30 second sample.

My mind races with the opportunities these breakbeats offered a budding beat maker. Catchy organs, swinging horns, funky guitar riffs, soulful melodies and grainy and pained vocalists swoon over love lost and gained. Sung in my mother tongue—Amharic—this was a far cry from the corny synthesizer music of the 1990s that my parents played on Saturday mornings. I could actually sample this shit.

The next day, I burn a CD and pop it into my dad's car. His eyes light up when the first notes ooze out of the speakers. “Where did you get this?" He asks puzzlingly. “The internet," I respond smiling.

In the 1970s my dad was one of thousands of high school students in Addis Ababa protesting the monarchy. The protests eventually created instability which lead to a coup d'état. The monarchy was overthrown and a Marxist styled military junta composed of low ranking officers called the Derg came to power. The new regime subsequently banned music they deemed to be counter revolutionary. When the Derg came into power, Amha Eshete, a pioneering record producer and founder of Ahma Records, fled to the US and the master recordings of his label's tracks somehow ended up in a warehouse in Greece.

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